Brussels, 17 Feb 2003
Dolly the sheep, the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, died aged six on 14 February. She was put down after a veterinary examination showed that she had a progressive lung disease.
Sheep normally live for around 11 or 12 years, and scientists will now assess whether her condition was due to premature ageing. She had already been diagnosed with arthritis in 2002, which was seen by some, including Ian Wilmut, who led the team that created her, as proof of the inefficiency of their cloning techniques.
'We must await the results of the post mortem on Dolly in order to assess whether her relatively premature death was in any way connected with the fact that she was a clone,' said Professor Richard Gardner, chairman of the Royal Society working group on stem cell research and therapeutic cloning. 'If there is a link, it will provide further evidence of the dangers inherent in reproductive cloning and the irresponsibility of anybody who is trying to extend such work to humans.'
Scientists will also be looking into whether the fact that Dolly's mother only lived for six years may also have affected Dolly's life expectancy.